Thursday, January 14, 2016

Good to Be Back!

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Hi, everyone. After spending a long holiday with our family in the States and getting our life in Cuenca rolling again I'm back to blogging. I've got a lot of topics I want to share with you, so I'll start with a little vignette from this afternoon that's on my mind and work backwards in time over the coming days.

One of the things we like to do upon returning home is buy fresh flowers for the apartment. You would never do that right before leaving, right? So we view this as a small gesture demonstrating that we are here for awhile.

Our local florist is Betty, a lovely woman who speaks not a syllable of English. Her assistant, Patchi, knows about as much English as I do Spanish, so every transaction is a bit of an adventure. When I came into the store Patchi was with a woman I assumed was a customer, leaving Betty and I on our own.

I quickly found one type of flower I had in mind but the calla lilies I wanted weren't in stock. So here we go, trying to talk, gesturing, and generally having a good time figuring out what else I should buy. Inevitably Patchi got involved, we all picked out some gorgeous roses and greenery, and I went to the counter to pay ($8 for 24 roses and an armload of other flowers, by the way).

I apologized in Spanish to the woman still sitting there and she said, in English, "Oh, that's OK. Patchi and I have been friends since kindergarten and we were just visiting. I enjoyed listening to you all trying to communicate. It's fun, isn't it?"

Fun. I'd never really thought of it that way but, yes, it is fun (most of the time) navigating your way through a foreign culture. Of course this wasn't always the case. In those early days when everything was so new, so confusing, so exasperating, so damned hard, "fun" wasn't a word that at all described the experience.

Now we don't let our lack of fluency bother us. We don't really let anything bother us, to tell you the truth. In our five and a half years of living abroad we've encountered and overcome so many obstacles that when something goes sideways we simply get through it.

Take this morning. Cynthia went to take her shower and discovered both of our gas tanks are empty. Translation: no hot water. I throw on some jeans, go around the corner to the tienda where I paid for a tank a week ago that hadn't been delivered, bought a second tank while telling the proprietor that my wife wanted to kill him, and we had new gas an hour later. No big deal--we take showers in the afternoon.

It's the day for our maid to show up and she does. To tell us she can't work today and will be here Saturday afternoon. We've got guests coming for dinner tomorrow night, but again, no big deal. We'll do a little spot cleaning and things will be fine.

I can imagine either of these incidents causing us (well, me at least) to go ballistic in the "old days" back in the U.S. and even in our early days here. No more. What's the point? Getting all jacked up only makes you feel lousy and does absolutely nothing to change the situation.

So it's great to be back, having fun and not stressing over minor inconveniences. How was your day?

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